Felt hat, group photo from Annette’s first workshop, blogs …..

I have had some really busy days in a row (what’s new) and another five days of madness to follow before I can settle down to a couple of exhibition proposals that I need to get written before the middle of April.  Last week I participated in two different workshops relating to blogging and social media one of which was organised by my friend Cathy, the director of ArtL!nks.  I know that I have mentioned ArtL!nks before but if you live anywhere in counties Carlow, Wexford, Waterford, Wicklow or Kilkenny I urge you yet again to register as a practitioner, the service is brilliant, the support on offer is great and everything is FREE or in the case of workshops heavily subsidised!  The intermediate blogging course was brilliantly facilitated as usual by Ken McGuire and hopefully I now have discovered even more ways to have fun whilst blogging!  Now off my hobbyhorse and on with the felting …..

Working the hat inside out once the resist was removed

Working the hat inside out once the resist was removed

Continuing on with my felt hat, once the ‘envelope’ of fibres started to curl up and I could feel everything coming together nicely I cut open the bottom edge of the package and removed the resist.  After this it was just like working and fulling a vessel, sealing the cut edges, working the section where the fibres had encircled the resist, shaping and shrinking.

Clare modelling my hat!

Clare modelling my hat!

I now need to just full it a little more on my head in order to get a perfect fit.  Probably I am either a week too late or nearly a year too early because it strikes me now that it would have been perfect for our local St. Patrick’s Day parade, ah well, there is always next year! 

Happy felters at the end of Annette Quentin-Stoll's first workshop!

Happy felters at the end of Annette Quentin-Stoll's first workshop!

Seamless felt bags and New Year swap update

Mari's seamless felt bag

Mari's seamless felt bag

The South East Textile Group held our first meeting of the year last Saturday and it was my turn to share some skills and facilitate the workshop.  We met at the Demanse Yard in Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny and as usual started the morning with a coffee and chat in the beautiful light filled restaurant/coffee shop.  Our theme for the day was ‘felt bags’ and luckily I got my newsletter from the secretary during the end of last week or they would have been without a tutor as with all the excitement of the rug making I had totally forgotton to make a note of the date in my diary!   We had a great turnout of members and as many of them had only felted once or twice before I really wanted to make sure that they all had a good experience and went home with their own beautiful completed bag. 

Anne's seamless felt bag

Anne's seamless felt bag

We started the workshop by passing around some seamless bags that I had previously made and I explained that I wanted everyone to work using an oval resist, the different shapes of the finished bags would be achieved by cutting the opening in different positions.  I prefer using laminate floor underlay as my resist and we had a brief discussion about how this layer of plastic is like a letter in an envelope and prevents the fibres from both sides sticking together when starting the felting process.  Because I had a lot of wool ordered for Mehmet’s rug making workshops I had a nice selection of colours for anyone to choose from if they didn’t have their own wool to work with and once everyone had selected and weighed their wool (mainly long fibred American merino but also a few colours in New Zealand merino batts) I showed them how to lay out the fibres in even layers on top of their oval shaped resist.  When using this method it is really important to take care when turning your package over and keeping the fibres tight around the outside as you flip the loose strands from one side to the other.  Because some of the members had only felted once before we did have a few laughs trying to get to grips with the concept of seamless felting; which layers of wool would become the inside of the bag, which the front, which the back, where would the design end up etc.  but once everyone understood what we were aiming to achieve some beautiful bags started to take shape.  Interestingly enough one of the completed bags actually looked even better when turned inside out, something that quite often happens when felting, one of the reasons that I love the process!  Wonderful bags made by novice felters!We wet the layers of wool out (all the bags were worked between 2 layers of bubble wrap) with warm water and olive oil soap, massaged the fibres, flipped the whole thing over and then laid out the other side.  In order for everyone to have a well finished bag I kept a close eye on how the members were laying to wool out, some used 3 layers before laying out any final decoration, some 4 layers.  I had brought a goodie bag with a selection of different coloured wool for the final layer and also some great mulberry silk which some people choose to incorporate into their design.  We broke for lunch at this stage and returned in the afternoon to roll, throw and complete the fulling process.  Once the packages had shrunk enough and the members could feel the resist culing inside the felt it was time to cut open the package and decide where to place the handles.  Some members cut out a semi-circle of felt as I had done in my demo bags, Mari and Mary actually didn’t cut a whole piece of felt out but created clever little flaps to use as closures in the finished bags.  Once the bags were felted fully I showed everyone how to make a simple cord handle and a couple of people went on to decorate their bags with great felt flowers as well!

The Clasheen New Year destash swap is now underway and swap partners have been assigned! 

Annabie swaps with Clear2glass
edwardsdawn41 swaps with Shelivesacharmedlife
Clasheen swaps with ABarrett
Girly Girl Bags swaps with weepereas

Check out our Flickr group to see exactly what we are up to and why not join in the fun next time around!

Invitation, felted vessels, necklaces and beading

Winter Exhibition at Kozo Gallery

Winter Exhibition at Kozo Gallery

I was very excited to see an image of one of my felt necklaces used on the invitation to the Winter Exhibition that opens at Kozo Studio and Gallery next Saturday.  This will be the second selected exhibition that I am participating in this month and I would love to meet any of you blog followers if you are free to come to the opening.  Please make sure to come and introduce yourselves if you are able to make the journey!

My days never seem long enough at the moment but I have to say that I am really enjoying all the felting!!  Today I made 2 amazing neckpieces using silk jewels (a bit similar to sari loom ends) and merino, the silk really crinkled up beautifully as the wool was felting so tomorrow I need to make a couple of brooches to use with them as closures.  These will be going to Kozo along with a couple of necklaces and some vessels that I made over the last few days.  I decided to use a much bigger resist than usual for these vessels (piece of laminate floor underlay used in the middle of my felt package to stop the fibres felting as a flat piece and create an ‘envelope’ instead) and have made one large bowl which I then beaded and one taller bowl with very organic grooves.  The beading was quite interesting, I love the glint of light on the seed beads and because of the result was not SO adverse as usual to plying the needle!!

Off now to try and put some images on my new Etsy shop and sort out the policy re. P&P etc., will check back in here and post the link if I am successful!!

Using a wire brush while felting! Silk paper workshop.

An amazing tip learnt during the Anita Larkin workshop concerns the use of a wire brush!  People had brought different sized brushes to try, but for fairly small pieces of work a suede shoe brush seemed perfect.  We used these when repairing a seam or depression caused by uneven rolling, attaching an object or closing the hole created when removing the plastic around a resist (explanation re resists Anita’s way to follow in another post).  I hope that I can explain what we did clearly but if it is not obvious enough please let me know.  The type of ridge/depression I am talking about is that created by uneven pressure when rolling a ball or a cord, often a problem for me and I am sure that most of you know what I am talking about.  Once you notice a ridge or depression forming at the pre felt stage use your wire brush gently to fluff up the fibres on either side of the problem area.  Holding the piece of felt lightly in your hands (or on the table if easier) smooth the fibres with your fingers and encourage them to move towards each other.  It is important that if the ridge goes in one direction you make the smoothing action in the opposite direction, ie. at a 90 degree angle to where the ridge is lying.  Keep smoothing very gently for quite a few minutes and you will notice that the ridge or depression magically seals over.  This method of fluffing up the fibres with a wire brush also allows you to attach a prefelted object to another piece of felt, just fluff up the side where you wish to make your join and work the seal very slowly and carefully.  Next time that I write a post I will discuss Anita’s method of making cords and inserting wire into felt. 

I did want to mention today however that on Saturday I attended an excellent one day workshop about silk paper making facilitated by Tunde Toth.  This workshop was organised by the South East Textile Group and took place at our usual venue in the Demense Yard at Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny.  Tunde is an artist working from the Kozo Gallery in Thomastown and specialises in different types of paper making.  She brought a great range of fibres for us to work with, initially we made a basic silk paper and then got really stuck in using inclusions and dyes as we became more experimental.  I found the whole process really inspiring as depending on the thickness of the paper made I feel it will be possible to insert the silk paper into a piece of felt at the early part of the felting process.  Already I have made a couple of experiments with silk paper that I made on Saturday, more on this subject as soon as I have finished writing about the scupltural feltmaking weekend with Anita.

Sculptural felt update

After the success (or lack of success!) with my last attempt to insert wire within my felt I decided to try a small sample as before but insert the wire as soon as I removed the laminate underlay resists.  It worked!!  I laid out a small landscape in Bheda wool using the mountains and fields surrounding me as inspiration.  I inserted the wire, finished the felting and fulling process and voila.  It was possible to manipulate the wire to create interesting shapes within the finished felted piece.  I can’t wait to try this out on a much more ambitious project but will have to wait until my work for the Green Energy Fair is over. 

Experimenting with sculptural pieces

Over the last few days I have been thinking of ways to add an extra dimension to my work.  Yesterday I created a sample piece that incorporated some strips of laminate underlay as resists.  For those of you who have never felted before a resist is just a piece of something (eg. supple plastic, laminate floor underlay or oilcloth) that the wool fibres will not adhere to during the felting process.  This means that where ever you position the resist a pocket within the finished piece will be created.  I decided yesterday to make a two tiered piece of felt with a darker background and a light wool and linen foreground.  Within the top layer I also incorporated three strips of resist, the idea being that when I removed them at the end I wanted to insert either wire or some other thin items.  My intention had been to play around with the final insertion and possibly try twisting the wire into some interesting combinations.  Even though I thought that my piece was fully shrunk and felted before I removed these strips, the ends of these hollow tubes bonded together slightly when I did the final rinse and throwing.  Today I am going to try to open up the tubes but I actually think that next time I will insert the wire or whatever as soon as I remove the laminite resist.  Will update you on progress as soon as I get the next piece finished.